These jeans that make you look like you wet yourself cost $800 – and sold out. Why?


Is "pee stain denim" the hottest new fashion trend?

Jordanluca, a high-end fashion brand, has sparked discourse on TikTok and other social media sites for a pair of jeans it released as part of its Fall/Winter 2023/2024 collection. Priced at over $800, the jeans appear normal in every way − save for stains on the crotch social media users say make the wearer look like they wet themselves.

"Where are we going as a society when this is high fashion?" one TikToker asked. "At first I thought these were fake," said another. "It makes me wonder the psychology of the people who are buying it," another said. " ‘Pee Stain’ Denim," declared an Instagram user.

Yet, the online mockery hasn't seemed to hinder sales. A lighter-wash version of the jeans, priced at $814 online and featuring "a stonewash stain on the crotch" per Jordanluca's website, has sold out.

According to fashion experts, the pricey pants' popularity shouldn't surprise anyone. After all, with the way fashion is trending, subversive looks are in. Plus, people strive to show just how little they care about social norms or expectations − even if they shell out major cash in doing so.

"The basis of coolness is not caring," says Lorynn Divita, an associate professor of apparel design and merchandising at Baylor University and the author of the book "Fashion Forecasting." "I can't think of anything that screams 'I don't care' more than proudly wearing a pair of jeans that lets people think, at least at first glance, that you've peed your pants."

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Why did Jordanluca's jeans sell out?

Though they may repel many, crotch-stained jeans provoke several other responses too.

The first is conspicuous outrage, which involves rebellion against social norms. This, Divita says, is signaled by both Jordanluca, for making jeans "so in your face you can't ignore them," as well as by customers, who show they don't care what others think when they purchase a pair.

"These (jeans) have a huge social risk, but it's flipping the script on its head," Divita says. "People actually are fine with people doing a double take and thinking that they wet their pants."

People embrace a messy, disheveled aesthetic for various reasons. A major one is to exhibit relatability, which can be problematic.
People embrace a messy, disheveled aesthetic for various reasons. A major one is to exhibit relatability, which can be problematic.

The jeans also demonstrate conspicuous waste, which Divita describes as "literally broadcasting to the world that you have so much money, you don't care about buying things that look new." Jordanluca described the jeans as a commentary on capitalism in a company statement to USA TODAY.

"Normally, a purchase like this requires a lot of thought and maybe some saving," Divita says. "For people who don't have as much disposable income, they value high-end brands, and they try to keep them really nice. For wealthy people, what's harder to achieve when you can buy all the nice new stuff in the world (is) stuff that's distressed and broken in. We always want what we can't have easily."

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Jordanluca, Balenciaga, more turn heads for pricey distressed fashion

Jordanluca isn't the only luxury brand to sell clothing designed to look dirty or deteriorated. Remember when Balenciaga released raggedy sneakers for $1,850 in 2022? Or when Golden Goose dropped taped-up sneakers for $530?

People embrace a messy, disheveled aesthetic for various reasons. A major one is to exhibit relatability, which can be problematic.

"(It) is a little bit misguided," Susan Scafidi, author of "Who Owns Culture: Appropriation and Authenticity in American Law," previously told USA TODAY. "Because it erases the reality of why someone might be wearing clothes that are dirty or ripped or ill-fitting."

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It's also savvy marketing, says Derek Guy, a style writer and menswear expert. After all, plenty of people probably never heard of Jordanluca until they saw its jeans pop up on their social media.

"These gimmicky, crazy garments are basically an easy way to troll people and get free advertising — people can't help but repost the item, thus spreading awareness of the brand and keeping them in the conversation," Guy says. "Do these companies expect to sell many of these weird items? Probably not, but a few people may go to the website looking for more outrage bait but then find a jacket they actually like. And perhaps buy."

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Divita says the trend also serves as an important reminder fashion isn't just about looking good. Sometimes, clothing's value lies in what it communicates about the wearer, rather than how it flatters their body.

"A lot of people think that fashion is just supposed to be beautiful, but it's really not. It's a whole range of aesthetic responses, and frequently it's a dialogue between the designer and then the consumer and the public," she says. "In this case, it looks like the designer is almost daring his customers to buy a jean so outrageous and just sort of say, 'Are you tough enough to wear these jeans and not care?' And people obviously have."

Contributing: Sara M Moniuszko, USA TODAY

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Jordanluca 'pee stain denim' jeans cost over $800 and sold out. Why?